Seeking to more vigorously market his company's "indefinite guarantee," John Frazier hired a construction management intern to survey past clients about his remodeling company's workmanship.

"I didn't want to aggressively market our lifetime warranty if we had unhappy people and they hadn't called me back," says Frazier, of JFC Design & Remodel in Boise, Idaho.

Besides launching a plan to maintain regular contact with past clients, the purpose of the survey was to ask for business. Letters alerted 250 customers (from the past five years) that intern Joe Profit (his real name) would call to review completed work and correct problems and would ask questions relating to satisfaction with JFC Design & Remodel. During the call, besides asking customers to rate professionalism and whether they paid fair value for work, he also asked if they'd consider using the company again. A salesman went on the in-person calls, or the "problem" calls, and would ask if the client had more work to be done -- in a very low-key manner.

By the beginning of May, 126 past clients had participated, with 100 surveyed by phone, 10 inviting a visit, and 16 saying they had problems. The project has so far generated 19 leads -- everything from window replacement to a garage addition. Frazier says all will receive a follow-up sales call.

The salesman who visited the 16 with problems resolved the issues, typically small fixes like drywall cracks or problems with an air conditioning line. Four vinyl siding snafus were resolved, without charge, by Frazier's siding subcontractor.

With the 126 clients he's surveyed, Frazier learned he has a 92% approval rating. And he's getting good references -- even from the 16 callbacks, who've OK'd using their names as references.

Frazier says the survey has been a shot in the arm, both externally and internally. Employees now know from customers that they do lasting work. He also got the chance to see how his intern worked and planned to hire Profit full-time as a production manager assistant/estimator-in-training.

Frazier estimates the survey will cost him about $20.69 per client, or about $5,172. He has used less than $100 in materials, and he's line-iteming the labor portion to warranty work.